Our ‘Navigate the Netherlands’ story:
– NOORIA, MUTAHHIR, MUSTAFA, AND TAIBA HAYAT –
From Islamabad, Pakistan to Amsterdam, the Netherlands
PART ONE: JUST BEFORE THEIR MOVE TO THE NETHERLANDS
New2nl wants to connect with our readers. We want to know where they live, what they do, what their family looks like, and most of all, what brings them to the Netherlands. The best way to do this? Ask our fantastic clients directly!
In this ‘My Navigate the Netherlands story’ series, we’ll interview a family three times during their process of moving to the Netherlands: just before they move, after their first two weeks in the Netherlands, and six months after their arrival.
Are you planning on moving to the Netherlands too?
This is how Nooria, Mutahhir, Mustafa, and Taiba Hayat from Pakistan have prepared themselves. Hopefully you’ll find some inspiration here.
Hello! My name is Nooria, and my husband is Mutahhir. We are the proud parents of two kids, Mustafa (7) and Taiba (4). My husband is a software engineer and I’m a product designer by profession. We currently live in Islamabad (Fun fact: It’s one of the top ten most beautiful capitals in the world!).
What are your reasons for moving to the Netherlands?
My husband was working remotely for some time but then the opportunity to move to Amsterdam came up, and we thought it would be a wonderful experience for the kids and a lovely place to live in.
What preparations have you made for your move?
Our biggest concern was schooling for our kids. Both our kids go to school and they have always been taught in English. Our mother tongue is Urdu and so, in a way, they are bilingual already. As parents, we tend to be more concerned about our children than ourselves. So our preparations started with looking for the right school and then looking for housing.
How long ago did you start preparing?
We actually didn’t have much of a headstart. Once we knew that we were moving, we have had just a few months to arrange things. I think we knew for sure just before June and promptly realized that the end of school year is July.
Have you been to the Netherlands before?
We came last year for a short vacation and needless to say we fell in love with Amsterdam instantly. There’s just so much diversity and tolerance – not to mention how beautiful it is.
Do you already speak some Dutch?
Not at all! 🙂 We do, however, find it interesting how some of the words sound like English words when you pronounce them correctly. We are planning to learn Dutch, primarily because our kids will pick it up fairly quickly and we don’t want to be left out of their conversations.
What are you expecting from your new home town – Amsterdam?
We hope to make new friends, to blend in and enjoy the various quirks and nuances of the city.
How and where have you gathered information about your relocation?
We gathered most of the information online. My husband’s colleagues have been such a blessing and have been there at each and every step.
What do you think you’ll miss most from your home country?
I think we will miss our family the most. We live with rather a large family so the kids are really used to having their grandparents around all the time.
And for sure we’ll miss the beauty of Islamabad. Here is a picture of the view from Monal Islamabad. This is a famous restaurant which is located at 1173 meters above sea level, at the top of the Potohar mountain. From the restaurant you can overlook the entire city. The view is simply breathtaking, and of course the food is amazing.
How long do you expect to stay in the Netherlands?
We are not sure about that yet. It depends on Mutahhir’s job and how well we settle there. However, we are hoping it’s a nice long and enjoyable stay.
What kind of school will your children go to?
Both the kids will go to a bilingual school. It will help them ease into Dutch life and culture more comfortably, while allowing them to keep up with their English education.
How have you experienced the process of finding a suitable school?
Initially, we thought we could find a good school for the kids ourselves without too much hassle. We tried, and called almost every school we could find online. We did a lot of research. However, we quickly realized that there was a gap in understanding and it was looking like we wouldn’t be able to find a school in time. Then Mutahhir’s colleague and his wife recommended Annebet.
We had a quick chat and explained what we were looking for in a school, and she suggested a few options, as well as explaining how certain things work. Since we had done a lot of research ourselves, we had an idea how difficult the situation was, but were reassured by Annebet that she would be able to help. We then quickly found a few potential schools that did have spots for our children. Although they were not our preferred options, we were able to talk through them.
Then something miraculous happened. Annebet contacted us to let us know that one of the top two schools on our list actually might have a place for Mustafa. We signed up immediately, and then started to focus on where to place Taiba. Mustafa was a bigger concern for us because for a completely Dutch school he would have needed to learn Dutch for a year at a Dutch immersion class first, and only then would he have been able to move to a regular school. With a bilingual school, he can study while learning Dutch simultaneously. This was a big win. It still wasn’t ideal that Taiba would have to go to a different school, but we would have been ok with that.
Shortly after, however, Annebet contacted us with amazing news: the school might have a place for Taiba too! In the end, both kids will be able to go to the same school – the one we had set our eyes on from the start, but actually didn’t expect to be able to get in to. We felt like it was Amsterdam telling us that it’ll make room for us if we really want to live there.
Based on your experiences so far, do you have any tips for international families who are preparing their move to the Netherlands?
Here are some things that we really benefitted from. The first was to reach out to other expats in Amsterdam through Facebook and other social media. There are so many nice people who are really helpful if you just ask politely. Then there are some Facebook groups that I joined, including Amsterdam Mamas and the Dutch Education Group. These groups are really helpful for getting information quickly, and you can search through a big repository of existing questions and discussions.
Thirdly I would just suggest spending a lot of time trying to read as much as possible and understanding as much as you can from the info available online. It really helps if you have a picture of the city and country in your head.
Last, but definitely not least, is to get professional help when you can. New2nl really got us the result we hoped for, while we had feared that it was probably impossible for us. The same goes for finding a house, and all the other big things you’ll need to deal with when you move.
Are you curious to find out how this beautiful family is getting on in the Netherlands? We’ll be back shortly with Part 2!
Would you like to connect with Nooria and Mutahhir? You may send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll make sure to pass it on.
Have you also worked with New2nl and would you like to be featured in the next ‘Navigate the Netherlands’ story? Please answer the above questions and send them together with some high-res pictures of your family and some favorite places of yours in your home country to email@example.com. Thank you very much in advance!
Other stories in this series: